The Eastern Africa Field Schools Support Hub has officially been launched in Entebbe, Uganda. The colorful event was held at the Entebbe Botanical Beach Hotel on 30th May 2018.
The launch was attended by key Field Schools delegates including Permanent Secretaries, Director Generals, Directors of Extension, International Agencies/ Institutions, Academia, Farmer representatives and members of the Private Sector from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.
While officially launching the Hub, the Director of extension from the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry & Fisheries in Uganda, Mrs. Beatrice Byarugaba, said this comes in handy at a time when the ministry has rolled out a policy where Farmer Field Schools is one of the acknowledged tools of implementation.
"Now that extension services have been revived, there are challenges of working methodologies and knowledge. Knowledge is there but how to manage it and promote it is a challenge. I am glad the Support Hub is going to intervene and promote knowledge sharing,” she said.
Since the introduction of the Field Schools approach in the 90s, thousands of Field Schools have been implemented throughout East Africa and Africa at large. However, as the approach becomes more popular, new issues and challenges keep arising, which could threaten quality of Field Schools activities especially in the East African region. Amongst the challenges is how to maintain the quality of FS implementation while scaling up, how to ensure networking and learning amongst Field School actors and ensuring links between field level practice and policy and strategic development.
In response to these challenges and more, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) supported the start-up of the Eastern Africa Field Schools Support Hub which is currently being hosted by the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), in Kampala, Uganda. According to the Hub Coordinator, Mr. Max Olupot who is also the Learning and Partnerships officer at AFAAS, it has been established based on experience from the rapid expansion of the Field Schools approach (Farmer Field Schools, Pastoralist Field Schools and other adaptations) in the Eastern Africa sub-region, accompanied with increasing demand for knowledge management, sharing and quality control. “The Hub will be very instrumental in strengthening knowledge management and providing catalytic support to countries and actors for improved quality of Field Schools interventions “Mr. Olupot said.
The role of the hub will be to Support up-scaling and Institutionalization of the Field Schools methodology, policy dialogue and advocacy, contribute to enhanced quality of the Field Schools learning process, spearhead knowledge sharing and dissemination amongst member countries, accredit and validate trainers, partnerships and resource mobilization and monitoring and evaluation of Field Schools activities. The Hub will be actively operational in its eleven member countries; Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.